Discussion Questions for Teachers & Book Clubs

  1. Sola expresses her vulnerability often in the story, talking about her phobias, the unwanted attention she receives because of her hair, and her belief that she’s “nothing special.” How do you relate to Sola’s self-criticism? What traits do you wish you didn’t have?
  2. The themes of supremacy and inferiority are prevalent in Riverborn. Where do you see these themes in our world today? Are they relevant in your own community?
  3. Were the time travel sequences confusing to you? Can you put the travelers’ appearances in order from Mr. Bodie’s perspective? We know that the Riverborn travelers first appeared inside his brothers on the day he received his inheritance. What happened next for him?
  4. Why do you think the chronology of the journeys was different for the Riverborns? What things “hooked” Sola and Tower, and made them want to go back?
  5. The concept of solidarity has a powerful impact in Belsinane. In our world, people shave their heads in solidarity with cancer patients who lose their hair from chemotherapy. What student-led movements can you think of that sparked solidarity? How do you show support for others?
  6. Celesta tells her children, “What we dream matters.” What are some of your dreams for yourself and the world?
  7. Koal Septet is not your typical arch-villain. Sola is enchanted by his voice, Celesta almost marries him, and Alchemy says, “People want to hate Koal Septet, but they can’t. They despise what he believes in, but they still get charmed by the man.” People are not always what they seem. Give some examples of charismatic people who have caused harm and violence in our world. How did they charm or incite others into following their lead?
  8. Explore the meaning of the words “fate” and “destiny” within the context of the story. What instances can you cite where characters made their own decisions, and which parts felt like “divine intervention?” How were instances of both important to the story?
  9. Sola, Still-Pool, and Bezel all have unusual gifts. Describe how their gifts influence the story. What gifts or qualities do you have that could benefit the people around you?
  10. In the final chapter, Sola says, “This was not how I wanted our travels in the earth-world to end.” How did you feel about the ending of the book? Can you think of scenes and conversations that foreshadowed the conclusion?
  11. If the story were told from a different point of view, whose story would you like to hear? Mr. Bodie’s? Bezel’s? Freefall’s? What things would you learn that Sola could not see?
  12. What three questions do you have for the author of Riverborn?

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